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Why Were The Vikings So Successful?


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#1 Murph

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 0712 AM

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?
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#2 Markus Becker

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 0722 AM

For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.

 

Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.

 

How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.


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#3 Olof Larsson

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 1107 AM

For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.

 

Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.

 

How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.

 

We shouldn't forget the political weakness and fragmentation of the areas that they raided.

Raids against the moors in Spain

(that neither paid ransom, allowed the Vikings to secure bases to spend the winter

or gave up in their attempts to destroy all invaders)

tended to end up in disaster.

 

In France for instance, local rulers might find it preferable

to not intervene and pay invading Vikings off, so that they would plunder

the lands of his neighbors or the emperor.

 

In those days, the nobility and royalties functioned like organized crime

(and I'd claim that in Europe, the states of today and the organized crime (notably in Italy),

are essentially of the same origin, only in different places and with different outcome.

 

So we shouldn’t look at the states on the continent as modern states, but as a medieval mafia.


Edited by Olof Larsson, 06 September 2014 - 1107 AM.

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#4 shep854

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 1133 AM

Silly, weak men...it was because HALF OF THEM WERE WOMEN!!!

http://www.theglobea...rticle20331819/

'Previously, archeologists assumed that any Viking buried with a weapon had to be male. But in a study from the University of Western Australia, researchers used bone analysis to verify the sex of 14 Viking corpses.

'They found that six were woman, seven were men and one was undeterminable. At least one corpse buried with a sword and shield was confirmed to be female.

' "These results, six female Norse migrants and seven male, should caution against assuming that the great majority of Norse migrants were male, despite the other forms of evidence suggesting the contrary,” the study said.'


Edited by shep854, 06 September 2014 - 1133 AM.

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#5 mnm

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Posted 06 September 2014 - 1234 PM

Even if they did not invent spam, they were happy to sing its praises. A fine documentary on the dayly life of Vikings is here in Technicolor.


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#6 ScottBrim

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 1909 PM

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?


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#7 shep854

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 1919 PM

 

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

So, so...American...:D


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#8 rmgill

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 2134 PM

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?


Three main weapons. 

Fear.
Surprise.
Ruthless efficiency. 

And a fanatical devotion to Thor. 

Four main weapons. 


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#9 ScottBrim

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Posted 08 September 2014 - 2312 PM

 

 

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

So, so...American... :D

 

 

You know, those Vikings didn't really live up to their fearsome reputation as Vikings until they had landed on the North American continent, and until their later descendants had conquered Minnesota at the behest of the Sons of Norway.


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#10 Ivanhoe

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 0032 AM

 

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

 

Well played, sir, well played.


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#11 Corinthian

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 0152 AM

Because Las Vegas-style buffets are something new in the Philippines. I frankly find it overrated (if my colleagues/coworkers gush about it, then it is overrated considering their lower standards).

 

Oh sorry, you meant another kind of Viking....


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#12 snafu_72

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 0653 AM

 

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

 

They had Joe Kapp, Alan Page, Carl Eller, Gary Larsen, and Jim Marshall?

 

Don't forget Fran Tarkenton, Bill Brown, Mick Tinglehoff, Karl Kassulke, Fred Cox, and Ron Yary among others! Skol Vikings!

:rolleyes:


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#13 DougRichards

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 0659 AM

 

I wonder why the Vikings were so successful at what they did?

Three main weapons. 

Fear.
Surprise.
Ruthless efficiency. 

And a fanatical devotion to Thor. 

Four main weapons. 

 

 

Ah, Monty Python strikes again....

 

“No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise, fear and surprise; two chief weapons, fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency! Er, among our chief weapons are: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, and near fanatical devotion to the Pope! Um, I'll come in again...”

 

(and what have the Romans ever done for us?)


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#14 Ariete!

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 0840 AM

A number of societies, historically, have drawn an unusual amount of their "income" of "GDP"  from depredation (treasure and/or slaves).  They typically fluorish in a situation where their victims have fairly dispersed or weak armed forces and the raiders have clear superiority in mobility.

 

Arguably, the emergence of fairly unitary / large predecessors of nation states in the areas of influence of the Vikings were a response to that threat and ultimately their undoing.  Christianisation of the Norse-Danes also reduced the threat somewhat.


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#15 Sardaukar

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1003 AM

Why they were so successful in foreign countries was that those guys and gals that were not brave and adventurous stayed home.


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#16 toysoldier

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1245 PM

They did it for the booty.


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#17 Sardaukar

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1309 PM

They did it for the booty.

 

That too, I bet. 


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#18 Murph

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1332 PM

Niki Minaj?  :D   Seriously though, it looks like strategic mobility was one of their assets in raiding and trading.


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#19 Marek Tucan

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1416 PM

For starters, they had the initiative and the element of surprise.
 
Their sails could turn up almost any time at any place along the coast, leaving the defenders very little time to react. They might have been gone already by the time the nearest garrison had been alerted.
 
How do you defend against this? A navy of your own that attacks the raider's bases come to mind.


Not to mention they could also get quite far inland using large rivers.

Another thing is (was mentioned already) that everyone who went Viking was able and ready (physically and psychically) to fight. Their opponents usually had a levy as bulk of their forces and often until the king got involved, not many "professionals" - and the King's core of warriors was usually smaller than the Viking force. Levies were usually not fully up to scratch unless well motivated and well led.

Another thing is good intel - often raider ships went trading while not raiding, and Norse traders were usual sight in ports.

Another thing is that apparently once they quenched resistance, they were not actually much worse (and often might have been better) that previous local nobility.

So basically it was often cheaper to settle with their conquest/formalise it (Normandy). If country wanted to fight them, it needed good central command and long struggle (which happened eventually in England).
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#20 Richard Lindquist

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Posted 14 September 2014 - 1419 PM

A number of societies, historically, have drawn an unusual amount of their "income" of "GDP"  from depredation (treasure and/or slaves).  They typically fluorish in a situation where their victims have fairly dispersed or weak armed forces and the raiders have clear superiority in mobility.

 

Arguably, the emergence of fairly unitary / large predecessors of nation states in the areas of influence of the Vikings were a response to that threat and ultimately their undoing.  Christianisation of the Norse-Danes also reduced the threat somewhat.

The "Little Climatic Optimum" or global warming of the period produced bumper crops and a population explosion in Scandinavia.  The excess population became land hungry and needed an outlet either through raiding/trading or emigration.  With global cooling and the resultant famines plus the Black Death, populations in Scandinavia shrunk back to what the lands could support and the Scandinavians could not support the overseas colonies (Greenland went kaput, the natives of the British Isles took over the Scandinavian enclaves, and Iceland came very close to being wiped out).


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